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China invests $124bn in Belt and Road global trade project

The Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars as part of an ambitious economic plan to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks.

China’s President Xi Jinping has pledged $124bn (£96bn) for the scheme, known as the Belt and Road initiative. ”Trade is the important engine of economic development,” Mr Xi said at a summit of world leaders in Beijing.

The plan, which aims to expand trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, was first unveiled in 2013.

Part of the massive funding boost, which is aimed at strengthening China’s links with its trading partners, includes 60bn yuan ($9bn; £7bn) in aid to developing countries and international institutions that form part of the Belt and Road project.

Mr Xi used his speech to assure Western diplomats that the plan, described as the new Silk Road, was not simply an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally.

”In advancing the Belt and Road, we will not re-tread the old path of games between foes. Instead we will create a new model of co-operation and mutual benefit,” Mr Xi said at the opening of the two-day summit.

”We should build an open platform of co-operation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” he added.